What do you do if you're trying to plant genetically engineered cotton in a hurry, but the government wants to make sure there won't be any environmental damage from doing so? If you're the giant Monsanto corporation, one answer might be: bribe somebody to skip over that pesky environmental assessment. Who knows how many times this tried and true practice has worked before? This time, they've been caught red-handed in Indonesia, and fined US$1.5 million.
Monsanto has been fined for bribing senior Indonesian environment ministry official to try and avoid an environmental assessment on its GE cotton.
As the world's largest GE crop company, Monsanto is aggressively
promoting its products across the globe by trying to dismiss any
environmental concerns, steamroller consumer opposition and
circumvent government regulations.
If their GE crops are as environmentally safe, wholesome and
well- tested as Monsanto claims then you'd think it wouldn't need
to grease the palms of politicians to get approval for its crops.
But it has been caught paying US$50,000 to the senior Indonesian
environment ministry official to try and avoid an environmental
assessment on its GE cotton. Obviously Monsanto wouldn't want any
of its claims about its crops independently tested would it?
Monsanto records show US$700,000 of "questionable or illegal"
payments from 1997-2001 to current and former Indonesian government
officials and their family members. Obviously nothing works better
than piles of cash to help smooth the path of government approval
for controversial GE crop, when faced with opposition from
activists and farmers in Indonesia.
Some activists might be unsurprised at such underhand tactics.
But to be caught so blatantly bribing government officials in order
to secure 'legal' approval of its GE crops is surely a major
embarrassment even to a company with such a dodgy history as
Monsanto had little choice but to admit its guilt in the case
and pay fines of US$1.5 million to US government regulators and
agree to three years' close monitoring of its business practices by
Why has Monsanto been so desperate to get GE crops approved in
Indonesia? The answer can be found in Argentina, Brazil and the US
where Monsanto has near-monopolies in the GE soya, maize and cotton
markets. Because the GE seeds are patented they must be brought
from the company every year. That means fat profits for Monsanto
but bad news for poor farmers in countries like Indonesia.
Bribes, corruption and relatively insignificant fines are small
change for Monsanto compared to the huge prize of monopoly position
in countries with large agricultural sectors. And once GE crops are
planted in a country, any contamination of non-GE crops means
Monsanto can also claim royalties from these farmers as it has done
Greenpeace is campaigning against Monsanto's unsafe, unwanted
and unnecessary GE crops. But we are up against underhand tactics
backed by millions of dollars. Help our campaign by giving now.
Monsanto's exposure to liability for GE contamination by
Innovest. It highlights Monsanto's terrible environmental record
and the risk to Monsanto share-holders from global opposition to GE
BBC - Monsanto
fined $1.5m for bribery.